LIKES: I’m a guy that likes to focus on the positives in life over the negative, so going with that philosophy I’m starting with what I liked in last nights game against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field in both teams pre-season debut. There was a lot to like. I’m going to stay away from the obvious like the play of Trubisky and Floyd’s play etc. We all were focusing on those things. I’m going to go a little deeper with my insight. Or at least attempt to.
Special Teams: I was extremely impressed and encouraged with the special teams play last night in both coverage and and returns. It’s pretty obvious that in year three of building the roster as well as having everyone healthy where they don’t have to use their ear marked special teamers to play offensive and defensive snaps due to replacing the injured made a difference. Cary stood out too which along with his strong running last night and familiarity of the system makes me feel he made this team as the Bears third running back. Also the returners. everyone one of them showed some juice. Deonte Thompson on kickoffs and Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson on punt returns all looked dangerous and players that would be worrisome to all special teams coordinators with the Chicago Bears on their schedules in 2017. With improved field position, the Bears offensive and defensive units stand to benefit immensely from what appears to be an improved special teams unit.
Hroniss Grasu & Taylor Boggs: I realize this is an odd thing to key on after the game we saw last night as these two appear to be both backup interior linemen. big deal right? well as we saw last season how valuable backups can be when both Long and Sitton went down last season at various times And both departed free agent Ted Larsen and currently injured reserve player Eric Kush replaced both pro bowl guards and you didn’t even notice they were missing. Boggs looked stout and athletic as well as Grasu. I saw one play where Grasu did get knocked back on his ass, but the ball was well gone by then and was of no consequence, but overall his anchor was solid which is the biggest concern with Grasu. His line calls were on the money as there was not one assignment issue while he was in there, and his athleticism helped add to runs with reach blocks, combo blocks and second level hits were on display in full force last night. With the uncertainty of Kyle Long’s health, the play at both tackle spots, as well as Cody Whitehair’s positional versatility the play of Boggs and Grasu should prove valuable should the Bears need to shuffle things around.
Dislikes: As with the likes I’m going to key on the less obvious dislikes like the play of Glennon for example. Also, just as with the likes there was a lot to not like. I am going to mention two of them that stood out to me.
High Leverage Dropped passes: There were six that stood out to me. The Tight Ends, in particular, were troubling to me. A group I have praised in my blogs as well as on social media. Zack Miller, Adam Shaheen, and Daniel Brown each had a third down dropped pass that would have extended drives with first downs. The ones to Brown and Shaheen would have been tough catches but catches professional Tight Ends are expected to make. In the case of Brown he lso had what wold’ve been a spactacular catch for a Touchdown, but dropped it. In situations like that you want to show you aren’t ordinary by making catches that are not ordinary. Victor cruz also took his eye off the ball to look upfield that would’ve been a big first down and let it hit the turf. Cruz’s appeal is his relaibility in situations like that so if he ants to make the team he has to make those plays. Also, Cameron Meredith dropped a pass on a slant pattern that was slightly behind and one he got hit hard on, but again, you want to make those in high leverage situations.
Cody Whitehair: This may seem like nitpicking after the season he had at center in his rookie year, but it is what it is. He had a key bad snap in shotgun that led to a turnover and whipped out a first down run by Tarik Cohen on a holding call. For as little snaps as he had that was a bad percentage of bad plays. It’s likely he settles down before the season, but it does require monitoring because he may be snapping the ball to a rookie Quarterback sooner rather than later. With the camp Grasu had last season and the play at Center last night the Bears may want to move Whitehair to tackle or guard especially if Long is not ready &/or the play of Charles Leno jr. (who also had a rough game last night) or Bobbie Massie requires a position change. So if Whitehair continues to play like that at center perhaps that influences his move elsewhere.